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Outages dropping after epic winds leave nearly 150,000 customers in the dark

Wednesday, January 13th 2021, 7:11 pm - The unyielding stormy pattern remains locked in place in B.C., with the latest round knocking out power to roughly 100,000 before dawn on Wednesday.

A powerful storm brought epic winds to much of Vancouver Island and the South Coast Wednesday, leaving almost 150,000 customers without power at the peak, though by the afternoon the number of outages had been decreased significantly. Strong winds are again in store Thursday, this time largely confined to more northern areas, but otherwise the unrelenting stormy pattern will relax in the long term. Details and timing on the next systems and when to expect a much-needed reprieve from the unsettled weather, below.


WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Strong winds Thursday for Haida Gwaii, northern Vancouver Island, and the north and central coasts Thursday
  • Stormy pattern of the past two weeks will finally settle into more of a typical pattern for the next week with breaks between systems

WEDNESDAY: HOWLING WINDS CAUSE WIDESPREAD OUTAGES, 100+ KM/H GUSTS

Damaging winds swept through southern B.C. through the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday, downing trees across the province and knocking out power to thousands of customers across Metro Vancouver and south Vancouver Island. According to BC Hydro, the hardest hit areas were Abbotsford, Victoria and Vernon.

A 91 km/h wind gust was recorded at Vancouver's International Airport, making it the sixth strongest January wind gust on record at that location. Wind gusts for parts of southern Vancouver Island topped the 100 km/h mark.

BC gusts Wednesday

At the height of the storm, roughly 142,000 customers were without power, BC Hydro reported, and the utility worked through the day to winnow that number down. By mid afternoon, some 27,000 customers remained in the dark.

In the mountains, at-times heavy snow made for rough travel through the mountain passes once again Wednesday, though special weather statements through the interior had ended by the afternoon.

LOOK AHEAD: BRIEF BREAK THURSDAY, EYES ON NEXT WEEKEND SYSTEMS

Beyond, fairer weather is expected Thursday, for the south coast and Vancouver Island, but a strong frontal system looks to track across Haida Gwaii Thursday evening toward the north coast.

"Ahead of the front, winds will increase to southeast 80 to 100 km/h over Haida Gwaii Thursday morning then spread to North Vancouver Island in the afternoon and the North and Central Coast early in the evening," said Environment Canada in a wind warning covering Haida Gwaii, the north and central coasts, and northern Vancouver Island. "In its wake, the winds will ease to southerly 50 to 70 km/h."

A relatively weak system will impact the South Coast Friday with a few showers, before fair weather takes over Saturday.

BCRainLR(Tues)

Next up is a weak system that moves in Sunday, drying out for Monday and then a more moisture-laden system is possible into Tuesday.

A much colder pattern is expected to develop after Jan. 20th with well below seasonal temperatures likely for the final week of January.

"This could include Arctic outflow events for the South Coast and a threat for snow all the way to sea level with any systems that impact the region," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham.

Thumbnail image courtesy: Jaxon Viaan

Check back as we continue to monitor the forecast.

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